Kindergarten readiness after prematurity: Integrating health, development, and behavioral functioning to optimize educational outcomes of vulnerable children

Bauer, S. C.; Msall, M. E.

Dev Disabil Res Rev. 2010 Jan 1; 16(4):313-22

Abstract

In the past 20 years, many advances (e.g., maternal steroids and surfactant) have changed the course of neonatal medicine. As a result, extremely preterm infants survive medical complications that were previously fatal. Once they are discharged from the neonatal intensive care unit, preterm infants may continue to experience a spectrum of medical and developmental challenges, and their families are faced with the potentially daunting task of nurturing a vulnerable child. Families may be referred to multiple systems of care, including primary care physicians, pediatric subspecialists, and early intervention services. The ultimate goal for preterm infants is to optimize their motor, communicative, social-emotional, and adaptive development as well as to promote their learning at home, at school, and in the community. As children transition to school, key indicators of their functional status include the amount of developmental, educational, habilitative, and behavioral supports they require to participate in learning activities with their peers. Success may be measured by whether preterm infants are ready for large-group learning with peers and the extent of supports required to make this important transition. The purpose of this review is to describe what is known about certain indicators of school readiness in preterm infants, including neurodevelopmental impairments, social-emotional skills, and social factors. We conclude with guidelines for using this transition as an important indicator of developmental trajectories that may help us to better understand risk and resilience in this vulnerable population of children.

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